by Charles Miller on August 24, 2000

I've become addicted, within a very short time, to the Wiki Wiki Web.

Wiki is a hypertext community. It consists of a potentially limitless number of pages. When you create a page, you pick a title that is MoreThanOneWord joined together like so. Whenever a page is displayed, the script finds all the WordsLikeThis and creates links through to the relevant Wiki Pages. If there's no page at the destination, the link turns into a prompt to fill it out, so you can pepper your post with suggestions for others to create more content.

The catch is... Anyone is allowed to edit any page. Although there is a complex etiquette about changing something written by another, the basic premise is that once you've posted, you don't own the words. They can be added to, manipulated, even deleted. The community self-organises. Some pages end up being discussion threads, some are collaborative articles. They'll grow boundlessly, until someone gets tired of it all and either splits off a new topic, or refactors everything down to a more convenient length. Or they'll just stay small, short and sweet.

Of course, this thing only works with a small community where people are more interested in making the community work than in breaking it. Sort of like the Internet is supposed to have been a few years before I turned up. Idiots who try to break things "because they can" could easily shut the system down. But there are many, many functional WikiWebs out there.

The coding behind it would be bloody easy - Just a dbm and some regular expressions. I keep thinking I should set one up myself, just a social "random-thoughts" web, but I don't think I have enough friends to make it take off.

Previously: Refactoring...

Next: Today